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Crowdfunding for Social Good
Devin D. Thorpe
Devin Thorpe

Monthly Archives: December 2014

Report: Utahns Four Times More Giving Than New Hampsherites; How Does Your State Compare?

As the Christmas season is upon us, WalletHub recently conducted an analysis of rates of charity by state around the United States. 

Spokesperson Jill Gonzalez, says, “With 30 percent of annual giving taking place in December and the U.S. co-leading the world with Myanmar in charitable contributions this year, the leading personal finance social network WalletHub conducted an in-depth analysis of 2014’s Most & Least Charitable States.”

She made the following key observations from the report:

  • The percentage of donated income is four times higher in Utah than in New Hampshire.
  • The median contribution to charity is three times higher in Utah than in Rhode Island.
  • The number of charities per capita is five times higher in Vermont than in Nevada.

According to the Wallet Hub report, the top five most giving states are:

  1. Utah
  2. South Dakota
  3. Idaho
  4. Kansas
  5. Nebraska.

The report says the five least giving states are:

  1. Nevada 
  2. West Virginia
  3. Kentucky
  4. New Jersey
  5. Arizona

On Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 7:00 PM Eastern, Jill Gonzalez will join me for a live discussion about the report and its implications. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. 

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes

More about WalletHub:

WalletHub is the premier personal finance social network. Not only does it help consumers find the best deals on credit cards, car insurance, checking accounts and the like, but it also develops data-driven studies to help them make the best financial decisions as possible.


Jill’s bio:

Jill Gonzalez is the spokesperson for WalletHub. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Strategic Communications and a minor in broadcasting from The Ohio State University. Previously, she covered sports as a sideline reporter for Verizon FiOS1Sports in New York City. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she is now on the hunt for the best cheesesteak in the District of Columbia.

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Devin D. Thorpe

Empowered Philanthropy

This is a guest post from Felica Herman, Executive Director of the Natan Fund.

“Money, pardon the expression, is like manure. It’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around, encouraging young things to grow.”

This great line from the classic musical Hello, Dolly!encapsulates a beautiful attitude toward giving, one that captures the joy and potential behind realizing that each of us can make a real impact on the world with our giving, no matter how much we have to give.

Unfortunately, this is not the way that many people experience giving.

Too many people’s experience with giving feels instead like “taking.” Too often, philanthropy is about reactive situations of being asked for money, and the proliferation of requests can lead to annoyance and a sense of not being in control of our precious charitable resources. How do we take back our experience of giving and become producers of our own philanthropic experiences? How do we become proactive, empowered, intentional – and yes, even joyful – givers?

One answer is to join a giving circle. Giving circles are groups of people who come together to pool their charitable resources and then decide together where to give them away. Giving circles offer anyone – at any level of giving, inspired by any cause or issue, living anywhere – to have a proactive engagement with giving that is meaningful both to the giver and to the recipient. Giving circles start from a place of asking: What are your philanthropic values? What’s the change you want to make in the world? And then the circle works to effect that change through charitable giving and, often, through community service, pro bono consulting, and other forms of assistance to grant recipients.

At Natan, the giving circle I’ve helped to lead for over a decade, we’ve seen how transformative the giving circle experience is for members – and how powerful a force it can be for the nonprofit sector. Natan engages young professionals in giving to Jewish and Israeli social innovation. Giving circles are infinitely customizable and come together around any issue or set of values – there are Asian-American giving circles, African American circles, women’s circles, LGBT circles, and on and on.

What they all have in common is the transformative impact on their members. Opening up the doors to empowered, hands-on giving; providing an experiential education (not just learning, but doing something) about the issues that matter most to members; and building a densely interconnected community of people connected by their values – Natan and other giving circles have unlocked empowered philanthropic experiences for hundreds of thousands of people. To expand and strengthen giving circles in the Jewish community, Natan has spent the past year working with dozens of partners around the world to create Amplifier: The Jewish Giving Circle Movement, a network of giving circles inspired by Jewish values, with a robust and ever-growing set of tools and resources needed to help anyone create a circle and then operate it efficiently and effectively.

I had the great pleasure of speaking about all of this – empowered philanthropy, the power of giving circles, and some of the Jewish values and wisdom that frame this work at Natan and Amplifier – in a recent ELI Talk. (ELI Talks, Jewish version of TED Talks, focus on “inspired Jewish ideas” – ELI stands for Engagement, Literacy and Identity.)

I hope you’ll take a look and share your thoughts with me at Felicia [at] or on the Amplifier Facebook page. As we’ve seen at Natan and in the circles we work with: being part of a giving circle is the way that all of us can be actively, joyfully involved in the holy work of spreading our money around, encouraging things to grow. I hope you’ll think about joining or starting one yourself!

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Equity Crowdfunding Site Embraces Real Estate

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Equity crowdfunding site EquityNet has fully embraced real estate finance on the platform, while continuing to provide services to entrepreneurs across a range of industries.

Founder and CEO Judd Hollas explains the appeal of real estate, “Most real estate investments pay an ongoing yield that is backed by tangible assets. Real estate projects are hence typically perceived as lower risk investments with the combination of both near term yield and long term equity upside. After a 30 percent decline in recent years, the real estate market is also in a long term uptrend that is attracting a great amount of investor interest.”

“Crowdfunding lets investors leverage the power of the internet to quickly find deals and efficiently conduct their due diligence. Real estate is an industry that is embracing crowdfunding as an alternative to traditional funding options,” Hollas continued.

“Currently, only accredited investors can participate in business crowdfunding,” Hollas cautioned. “Title III of the JOBS Act will allow nearly anyone to participate in business crowdfunding; however, finalized rules are still pending. Once these rules are in place we can expect to see an influx of capital in the real estate market since the pool of potential investors will have grown exponentially from 10 million accredited investors to over 100 million accredited and non-accredited investors,” Hollas concluded.

On Thursday, December 3, 2014 at 11:00 AM Eastern, Hollas and Kenny Dewan, founder and CEO of MondayOne Properties, a firm that is raising money on EquityNet, will join me for a live discussion about the broad appeal of real estate related crowdfunding. Tune in here then to watch the interview.

More about EquityNet:

EquityNet has operated the largest business crowdfunding platform since 2005. The multi-patented EquityNet platform has been used by over 45,000 individual entrepreneurs and investors, incubators, government entities, and other members of the entrepreneurial community to plan, analyze, and capitalize privately-held businesses. EquityNet provides access to thousands of investors and has helped entrepreneurs across North America raise over $240 million in equity, debt, and royalty-based capital.

More about MondayOne:

MondayOne is a commercial real estate developer, with a solid reputation for integrity, innovation, and community involvement. MondayOne has acquired, planned, and developed properties for Retail, Hospitality, and Multi-family.

MondayOne offers a full range of commercial development solutions. We partner with investors and other agencies to offer our extensive development expertise to an array of diverse situations. Our partners have over 70 years combined experience in commercial real estate development. We create synergistic relationships with our partners through the company’s comprehensive menu of development capabilities.

Hollas’s bio:

Mr. Hollas is a pioneer in the field of crowdfunding with multiple patents granted for capital marketplace systems, business analysis systems, and business monitoring systems. He is the founder of EquityNet and continues to lead the Company’s efforts to create and introduce innovative new products and services. He is responsible for the overall management of the Company, including its strategic direction and fiscal and professional integrity. Prior to founding EquityNet in 2005, Mr. Hollas served as Division Manager for Beta-Rubicon, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in technology assessment and business due diligence services. He conducted extensive research on methods of conventional due diligence, causes of private enterprise failure and methods for risk prediction, marketplace characteristics in the private equity industry, and it was during this time that he developed the crowdfunding model and EquityNet.

Kenny Dewan

Dewan’s bio:

Mr. Dewan, founder of MondayOne is an accomplished business entrepreneur, with over 24 years of business experience. In the past 14 years, he has acquired, planned and developed properties including multi-tenant, hospitality and retail projects. He has built a reputation for integrity and innovation in his community. His passion for excellence continues to drive him, to make a positive difference both in his personal and professional life. At MondayOne, he has used his business development skills and extensive experience in management to assemble “a winning team”

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Hershey Recognized For Work Among West African Farmers

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

The U.S. Department of State recently awarded its P3 Impact Award to Cocoa Link, a public private partnership connecting poor cocoa farmers in West Africa to government resources to improve crop yields. The initiative, launched by Hershey, was recognized for its impact on 45,000 users. Work is moving forward to scale the effort to more countries.

Crowdsourcing design company CrowdSPRING provided a five-panel mural recognizing all five of the finalists: African Diaspora Marketplace, Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, The Coca-Cola KO +0.07% Company and the World Wildlife Fund : Partnering to Protect Freshwater Resources, Wireless Access for Health Initiative and the winner Cocoa Link.

On Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 4:00 Eastern, CrowdSPRING CEO Mike Samson and Hershey’s HSY +0.18% Senior Director, Cocoa Sustainability, Andy McCormick will join me for a live discussion about the award and the work in West Africa among cocoa farmers. Tune in here then to watch the interview live.

More about Cocolink:

Cocoa villages in West Africa are often isolated and it is difficult for farmers to access information on good agricultural practices. To address this issue The Hershey Company, the Ghana Cocoa Board, and the World Cocoa Foundation partnered to launch CocoaLink. CocoaLink connects cocoa farmers to government agriculture experts and the latest information on modern farming techniques through a two-way mobile phone exchange. Farmers use text and voice messages to receive information and ask questions about farming conditions and practices. The widespread use of mobile phones makes CocoaLink an economical and easy-to-use platform. To date, there are more than 45,000 registered CocoaLink users in 1,800 communities. Compared to non-CocoaLink farmers, on average, CocoaLink users experience a 45% yield improvement and a 70% income increase. Partners will use insights from the Ghana CocoaLink program to extend the program to other cocoa-growing countries in West Africa.

More about CrowdSPRING:

CrowdSPRING is an online marketplace for buyers and sellers of creative services.

Buyers who need a new logo, website, marketing materials or other creative content simply post what they need, when they need it and how much they want to pay. Once posted, creatives from around the world will submit actual work – not bids or proposals – for the buyer to review. As the submissions come in, buyers are able to review, sort, rate, provide feedback and collaborate with creatives until they find the “the one.”

More about Hershey:

In addition to being the leading producer of chocolate and non-chocolate confectionery and other grocery products in North America, The Hershey Company also carries on a significant international presence with operations in more than 90 countries.

Mike Samson

Samson’s bio:

Mike Samson is the co-Founder of crowdSPRING, the creative marketplace.

Prior to starting crowdSPRING, Mike was an Emmy Award nominated Producer and Production Manager with more than 20 years of experience as a senior manager in the film and television production industry. He has worked on dozens of feature film and television projects including “Wall Street,” “Bull Durham,” “Steven King’s The Stand” (miniseries), and “Men in Black II.” In prime-time dramatic television, he supervised on TV series such as “New York Undercover” and “Third Watch.” Mike has received numerous honors individually and as a team member, including an Emmy Award nomination, DGA awards, and a George Foster Peabody Award. He is a member of the Directors Guild of America and the Academy of Television Arts &Sciences.

Mike is a frequent speaker on creative crowdsourcing and has given expert advice to audiences at top trade shows including South by Southwest and DEMO. He regularly works with journalists at broadcast, print and online media outlets including MSNBC, Crain’s Chicago Business, AdAge, Wired, VentureBeat and the New York Times.

Mike has a BA in Mass Media from the University of Illinois and a MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

McCormick’s bio:

Andy McCormick is Senior Director, Cocoa Sustainability, for The Hershey Company. In this role, he is responsible for collaborating with West African governments, industry and nonprofit organizations to develop and implement sustainable programming to improve the welfare of cocoa farmers globally.

Mr. McCormick leads the company’s sustainability initiatives in West Africa, including a mobile phone program, CocoaLink, and Hershey’s Learn to Grow farmer training program.

Prior to his current role, McCormick was Vice President, Public Affairs, where he was responsible for leading Hershey’s Corporate Communications, Public Relations and Corporate Social Responsibility teams.

McCormick joined Hershey from Pfizer Inc., where he was Vice President, Worldwide Communications. Before joining Pfizer, he held positions at IBM Corporation and at daily newspapers in Virginia and Wilmington, Del. He has also worked in Ghana as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer.

McCormick currently serves on the board of the International Cocoa Initiative. He is a past board member of the World Cocoa Foundation and United Way of Lancaster County.

McCormick holds a bachelor’s degree from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash.

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New Technology Allows Electric Bus To Carry Passengers In Addition To Batteries

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

When I first met Wesley Smith he was running a STEM-rich, team building program for students of all ages, including an occasional corporate group–it was really a Star Trek fantasy experience.

His latest social venture is a bit more down to earth. WAVE is building electric buses that carry small batteries, allowing the bus to actually have room for passengers. Battery requirements for electric buses are so dramatic that electric buses are traditionally connected to overhead electricity and often run diesel engines when disconnected from power. To enable a bus to run on electricity all day the bus couldn’t carry passengers, it would only have room for carrying batteries–and it would be so expensive as to be a nonstarter. WAVE has found another way.

Smith believes that it is obvious that but for batteries, electric buses are far superior to the alternatives. “If not for concerns related to the battery, electric buses are far superior to their diesel and CNG counterparts. Aside from zero tailpipe emissions, which is better for the health of passengers and people on the streets, the user experience in an all-electric bus is considerable more enjoyable. Electric buses are quiet, where internal combustion engines that use diesel or CNG are noisy. Electric buses also have no transmission leading to a smoother ride for passengers. Electric buses are also significantly cheaper to maintain and operate with no oil changes, far fewer brake pad replacements, no belts to replace, and a cheaper, more stable fuel source.”

Here’s the key to understanding how WAVE can get away with using small batteries in a big bus. “WAVE solves the battery problem – limited range, heavy, expensive – by providing a wireless charging solution for electric buses that allows the buses to charge en route. Buses will run their route and then sit over the charging pad for 5 to 10 minutes each lap. This charging time enables the buses to meet the duty cycles typical in transit applications,” according to Smith.

On Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 2:00 Eastern, Smith will join me for a live discussion about the new technology he hopes will radically improve urban air quality. Tune in here then to watch the interview live.

More about WAVE:

Founded in 2011, WAVE is the leading provider of en route wireless power charging solutions that overcome traditional battery limitations in electric vehicles by delivering wireless power using electrical infrastructure embedded in the roadway and vehicle-mounted receiver plates. WAVE’s Wireless Power Transfer (WPT) is created through magnetic fields that move power from underneath the roadway to the vehicle, without wires or cables, and is the most powerful and efficient single pad wireless charging system deployed for public transit. WAVE provides a full-service turnkey solution to transit agencies that includes the electric bus, WAVE charging system, service level agreements, and ongoing systems maintenance. WAVE works closely with the Federal Transit Administration and is currently deploying WPT systems in several regions of the U.S.

Wesley Smith

Smith’s bio:

Wesley Smith has over 20 years of experience in the commercialization of emerging technologies for startup and Fortune 500 companies. His activities have included strategic business development and planning for energy, transportation, and information companies and government agencies. Wesley has worked for, or represented, such diverse companies as Electrobras, PEMEX, AES AES -0.44% Corporation, NASA, Argentina’s Ministry of Telecommunications, AT&T T +0.09%, Union Pacific UNP -0.96%, Diveo Broadband Networks, Deutsche Telekom , and Questar Corporation. He received a law degree from George Washington University in 1989.

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Text-to-Pledge Technology Facilitates Giving At Galas

Nonprofit organizations are always looking for ways to increase donations, especially at events that can be expensive to produce and may yield a large portion of the annual budget.

Sophist LLC has created a platform called Text-to-Pledge that facilitates collecting pledges at events, making it easier to gather the resources nonprofits hope to get.

CEO Reed Baker explains, “Text-to-Pledge offers elegant, branded on-screen content, including interactive text messaging and impact visuals, to encourage giving.”

Our extensive pre-production process addresses an event holistically, with high-level event management and strategic fundraising experience to maximize onsite giving,” he continues.

Text-to-Pledge has helped raise more than $37 million from about 500 fundraising campaigns since its creation in 2007,” Reed concludes.

On Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 6:00 PM Eastern, Reed will join me for a live discussion about the technology. Tune in here then to watch the interview live.

More about Sophist:

Sophist LLC is a creative, multimedia and fundraising company based in Long Island City, New York. With the advent of Sophist’s renowned Text-to-Pledge® program, the company has come to dominate the mobile fundraising space, generating millions of dollars in donations annually by activating attendee mobile phones at charity events across America. The program is closing in on $40 Million in funds raised for its clients and has supported over 500 nonprofit events across America.


Reed’s bio:

Reed Baker is the founder and CEO of Sophist LLC. Baker is a fundraising strategist, first and foremost, with an acute understanding of how organizations can employ technology to impact the bottom line. He is a New York City native and graduate of Emory University.

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Devin D. Thorpe

Nonprofit Engages Engineers To Improve Health Care Worldwide

Engineering World Health, often abbreviated EWH, is working to “improve health care delivery in the developing world,” according to CEO Leslie Calman.

She explains, “ Engineering World Health (EWH) is a non-profit organization that brings engineering students, professionals, and healthcare providers together to collaborate on the development and utilization of biomedical equipment in the developing world.”

“Our Web site serves as a hub to share ideas and develop collaborative relationships that are then brought to fruition in country, where engineering students repair lifesaving medical equipment to facilities in need and train Biomedical Engineering Technicians to repair and maintain that equipment,” she concludes.

On Thursday, December 4, 2014 at noon Eastern, Leslie will join me for a live discussion about her work. Tune in here then to watch the interview live.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

More about Engineering World Health:

EWH inspires, educates and empowers young engineers, scientists and medical professionals from more developed parts of the world to use their engineering skills to improve global health. EWH offers young professionals an eye-opening, life-changing experience that encourages life-long engagement with global health, and enables them immediately to provide meaningful service to patients in the developing world.

EWH also supports training programs in Asia, Africa and Latin America that are building a workforce of in-country biomedical engineering technicians and instructors. Working in partnership with local hospitals, educational institutions and governments, EWH is improving local capacity to run efficient hospitals up to international standards now and in the future.

EWH design competitions encourage innovation in lifesaving medical equipment for under-resourced parts of the world.

From its university chapters to its K-12 STEM education programs, from its engagement of exceptional students in the developed world to the education of newly empowered technicians in Africa, Asia and Latin America, EWH builds a global engineering community of knowledge development and exchange.


Leslie’s bio:

Leslie Calman, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer

Leslie Calman brings an extensive background in nonprofit leadership to Engineering World Health. For five year she was the Executive Director of Mautner Project: The National Lesbian Health Organization, whose mission is to improve the health of lesbian and bisexual women and transgender persons through direct and support services, research, education and advocacy. Leslie led the Project through an impressive turnaround by strengthening programs, streamlining expenses and building new sources of funding.

Previously, Leslie served in leadership positions at the International Center for Research on Women/ICRW (Vice President of External Relations), the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund (Executive Vice President), and Barnard College (Director of the Barnard Center for Research on Women), where she also was a professor of political science and women’s studies.

Leslie is a graduate of Barnard College and has a Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University, where she studied comparative politics, social movements, and South Asia. She has written two books and several articles on social and political movements in India, and lived in India for two extended periods of time to conduct research on those books. She has been widely quoted and interviewed on national media.

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Devin D. Thorpe

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